Strengthening bilateral economic, political and security ties with ASEAN and the member states remains a priority for Canada.

This was confirmed by Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, who is on his Asia tour, which will include visits to ASEAN member states of Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar from July 31.

“When Canadians think of our country’s priority relationships in Asia, we tend to think of the dominant regional countries, including Japan, India and China,” Baird was quoted in the Canadian Government’s announcement dated July 30.

“Those nations are undoubtedly important to us, but we must not ignore the tremendous growing opportunities in Southeast Asia and our strengthening ties to that dynamic and remarkably diverse region,” he added.

In Singapore, Canada’s current ASEAN Coordinating Country, Baird will hold talks with Minister for Foreign Affairs Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. He will also deliver a speech on Canadian engagement in Asia as part of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Fullerton Lecture series.

In Indonesia, which concluded successful presidential elections on July 9, Baird will attend the second ministerial-level Bilateral Consultative Forum with Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa and meet with ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh at the ASEAN Secretariat.

Baird will officially open Canada’s first resident Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, and participate in his fourth consecutive ASEAN-Canada Post Ministerial Conference. Canada is one of ASEAN’s longest-standing dialogue partners.

He will also make the first-ever visit by a Canadian foreign minister to Timor-Leste, where he will meet with Foreign Minister José Luis Guterres, President Taur Matan Ruak and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão.-VNA